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Fights Between Male Guinea Pigs

I have two male guinea pigs that are fighting. Should I get them neutered?

By Shannon Cauthen
Posted: April 1, 2008, 5 a.m. EDT

Q: I have two male guinea pigs (brothers) that I bought when they were young. They have lived together for a long time. One of them is larger and more dominant, and sometimes he tries to mount the other one. I'm not sure, but I believe this is causing them to fight. It's pretty violent but it doesn't last long, however, I'm afraid they will hurt themselves flying around the cage like that. Should I get one or both of them neutered?

A: Unfortunately neutering does not change the demeanor of guinea pigs as it might with other animals. Even if you were to have one or both guinea pigs neutered, this behavior would only continue when they where returned to the same cage.

The nature of the fighting, even if it occurs in short scraps, only intensifies as time passes. Even guinea pig littermates might fight each other until one is seriously injured or dead. Separate housing, even set side by side, offers a much healthier environment.
 
It’s difficult to determine whether guinea pig males will get along with each other. For a first introduction, place the guinea pigs in a clean area that neither has claim to. Expect them to pace around each other and sniff under each other’s chin or bottom. This possibly is a way for them to determine the friendliness of the other guinea pig. It is almost as if they are saying, “Hi, what is your ranking in the herd?” Not unlike dogs.

After this, guinea pigs usually move to what is called the "Purr, Rumble, Strut." One male circles the other while purring, rumbling and shaking his back end on the balls of his feet. Moving closer, he attempts to rub his scent on the other guinea pig from a scent gland located at the back of his bottom. Sometimes this gland is visible by a greasy substance that is secreted just above his bottom or about where a tail would be if a guinea pig had a visible tail.
 
Guinea pigs will then attempt to mount each other in a dominating posture. If one of the males allows the other male to do this and leave when he’s done, then the pair can likely be housed together. But there are no long-term guarantees.

Several progressive signals indicate when a pairing won’t work.

1. The males purr, rumble and strut around each other, but don’t give an inch to the other.
2. One or both guinea pigs yawn widely as if to say, “See my teeth! They could cause you some serous damage!”
3. One guinea pig head-butts or thumps the other. Sometimes the butting guinea pig comes back with a bit of hair in his mouth. This is a final warning; the next thump will be a bite.

If the guinea pigs are not separated at this point, a brawl begins. The fur flies, the bedding flies, and they become a whirl of flying fur, feet and teeth.

Keep a towel or gloves handy during introductions. If things go wrong, you can reach in with your hands protected. When guinea pigs reach the point of fighting, they do not pay attention to who is where and they may accidentally bite the hands that feed them. Ideally things would not be permitted to get to this point.

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Fights Between Male Guinea Pigs

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Reader Comments
Great article, but I need a little more...

We bought three baby boys, two are brothers. The brothers (Popcorn and Red) fought really badly and drew blood so we separated them. Popcorn stayed with the non-fighter Muffin.

We felt bad that Red had no 'roomie' so we got a new 'brother', younger (Pinto). We kept them separate for two weeks and gradually introduced them for short periods on neutral territory. They did all the rumble strut stuff, the 'my nose is higher than yours' routine and have been FINE for about two months. NOW they are fighting.

The older one (Red) has always been very shy and scared but he's even more so now. This morning there is blood in the cage. There's blood ON TOP of the igloo, a bloody footprint upstairs, in the upstairs 'bedroom' and a little on Red's back. I can't see any cuts so I don't know who was hurt.

The other problem we've discovered lately is TREE RATS (we're in Australia). They are tiny and can squeeze through the bars and eat the GPs' food. I'm not sure if they were involved.

We love our piggies very much and don't want to get rid of any of them, but I'm concerned they'll be lonely if they can't have contact.

So, my question is, I have to separate them (yes?) but will they be sad and lonely if I have them nearby but not together? Red spends a lot of time ON TOP of the igloo staring longingly at his brother Popcorn (their cages are side by side as I thought it was best to let them have some contact - but they can't reach each other).

Every day we put all four out in the grass in two large pens that touch but they can't access each other, other than sniffing. Red is very territorial and every day leaves his scent along the boundary.

Not sure what to do to make them happy! Do I separate Red and Pinto, and have Muffin and Popcorn as they are, then Red on his own, and Pinto on his own? Pinto is a very inquisitive, energetic fella and I'm concerned he'll get lonely - but I can't get a 5th piggie, or this could go on forever! lol
Sanchia, International
Posted: 7/20/2013 4:52:20 PM
I have had one of my male Guinea Pigs Sniffers for a year and my husband bought me a baby male guinea pig for Valentines day. Well, they were getting a long until today when I cleaned there cage and now they are chattering at eachother. The little big Scratchy is being the defensive one. What should I do? luckily i have small cage for scratchy.
Michelle, Ogden, UT
Posted: 2/25/2013 10:17:53 AM
I have three guinea pigs now. Two of them we have had for awhile now but we just got the third one about a week ago. Chapman and Cleese were getting along really well. They had only had one fight before Frosty came along. Cleese took a nip out of Chapman's ear but ever since then they have been fine. In the last couple days, Cleese and Chapman have been fighting nonstop it seems. We seperate them at night now and even most of the day. I think they are both trying to prove dominance over Frosty now. They chatter teeth, yawn, and now they are taking bites out of each other. Is there anything we can do to make them stop fighting again?
Erica, Abingdon, VA
Posted: 12/30/2012 8:13:01 PM
I have 3 male guinea pigs that share a relatively large cage. One of the guinea pigs, Cosmo, has been bitten all over his body and now has scabs everywhere; we have discovered that another pig, Wolfgang, has been biting him, though strangely enough he has been scaring the other, Speedy, though not biting. What should i do?
Ned, Adelaide
Posted: 10/3/2012 6:57:22 PM
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